Bahrain GP: Leclerc leads dominant Ferrari 1-2 in FP1

Ferrari immediately rebounded from a poor Australian Grand Prix by setting the pace in first practice for Formula 1's Bahrain Grand Prix, nearly a second clear of Mercedes.

Bahrain GP: Leclerc leads dominant Ferrari 1-2 in FP1

Charles Leclerc set a best lap of 1m30.354s to lead the way in the blistering daytime heat, 0.263 seconds clear of Sebastian Vettel in a Ferrari one-two.

Melbourne race winner Valtteri Bottas was third fastest, 0.974s down on Vettel, while Lewis Hamilton was more than 1.2s off the pace in fourth.

It looked as though Mercedes was in terrific shape in the early part of the session, as Bottas and Hamilton both used medium tyres to lap quicker than the soft-tyred Ferraris initially.

Bottas led the way on a 1m32.340s and it took several attempts before Vettel fractionally displaced him at the top of the timesheet.

Ferrari then took a big step forward, as Vettel broke into the 1m31s and Leclerc slotted into second on 1m31.884s, 0.137s down on his teammate.

When Mercedes finally bolted soft tyres onto its cars, Bottas leapt back to the top, despite a small moment at Turn 10, setting a 1m31.328s best to stretch four tenths clear of Ferrari.

Hamilton then slotted into second spot, just under three tenths down on Bottas, despite running wide at the final corner.

But Ferrari made one final push, with both cars taking to the track on soft tyres again and breaking into the 1m30s.

Vettel moved briefly to the top with a 1m30.617s effort, before Leclerc went faster still to claim the top spot and make an emphatic statement at the start of an important weekend for the Scuderia.

The Red Bull-Honda of Max Verstappen enjoyed brief spells at the top but ultimately ended the session fifth, encouragingly less than a tenth slower than Hamilton's Mercedes.

Pierre Gasly endured a difficult start to the session in the second Red Bull, complaining it was "super-oversteery" on the apex of corners on the hard tyre and asking the team to check the engine braking settings.

He finally hooked a lap together on soft tyres that was less than two tenths down on Verstappen.

The McLaren of Carlos Sainz, which has taken a new Renault engine for this weekend following a fiery MGU-K failure in the Australian Grand Prix, was an impressive seventh fastest, just 0.137s down on Gasly.

Nico Hulkenberg's Renault – which collided with Antonio Giovinazzi's Alfa Romeo in the closing minutes of the session – was eighth, ahead of Daniil Kvyat's Toro Rosso-Honda and Kimi Raikkonen's Alfa.

Daniel Ricciardo carried the replacement Renault chassis he's been given following the first-lap damage he suffered in Australia to the 11th fastest time, while Kevin Magnussen was 12th in the best of the Haas-Ferraris.

Williams once again brought up the rear of the field, with George Russell incurring car damage from a pitlane start and suffering a spin.

He was almost seven tenths down on the Racing Point of Lance Stroll, who suffered his own spin exiting Turn 4 early on and struck the inside barrier.

Cla Driver Chassis Engine Laps Time Gap
1 Monaco Charles Leclerc  Ferrari Ferrari 20 1'30.354  
2 Germany Sebastian Vettel  Ferrari Ferrari 21 1'30.617 0.263
3 Finland Valtteri Bottas  Mercedes Mercedes 26 1'31.328 0.974
4 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton  Mercedes Mercedes 23 1'31.601 1.247
5 Netherlands Max Verstappen  Red Bull Honda 21 1'31.673 1.319
6 France Pierre Gasly  Red Bull Honda 17 1'31.815 1.461
7 Spain Carlos Sainz Jr.  McLaren Renault 28 1'31.952 1.598
8 Germany Nico Hulkenberg  Renault Renault 17 1'32.040 1.686
9 Russian Federation Daniil Kvyat  Toro Rosso Honda 24 1'32.339 1.985
10 Finland Kimi Raikkonen  Alfa Romeo Ferrari 23 1'32.385 2.031
11 Australia Daniel Ricciardo  Renault Renault 19 1'32.401 2.047
12 Denmark Kevin Magnussen  Haas Ferrari 21 1'32.602 2.248
13 Thailand Alex Albon  Toro Rosso Honda 24 1'32.874 2.520
14 Mexico Sergio Perez  Racing Point Mercedes 20 1'32.885 2.531
15 United Kingdom Lando Norris  McLaren Renault 29 1'32.945 2.591
16 Italy Antonio Giovinazzi  Alfa Romeo Ferrari 22 1'32.949 2.595
17 France Romain Grosjean  Haas Ferrari 22 1'32.994 2.640
18 Canada Lance Stroll  Racing Point Mercedes 16 1'33.518 3.164
19 United Kingdom George Russell  Williams Mercedes 26 1'34.188 3.834
20 Poland Robert Kubica  Williams Mercedes 27 1'34.253 3.899
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Series Formula 1
Event Bahrain GP
Author Ben Anderson
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